07 October 2010

Nobel prize winners warn ‘UK Visa cap threatens country’s future’

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The UK Visa cap threatens the country’s future as a scientific centre, a group of Nobel prize-winning scientists has warned.

UK Visa

The UK will lose many valuble international collaborations because of the UK Visa cap, leading scientists have said.

In a letter to the Times, the eight UK academics said the UK Visa curbs would deprive science and industry of talent and it was a "sad reflection" that scientists and engineers could not be give the same exception to the rules as Premier League footballers.

The UK Visa Cap was a key part of the Conservative election manifesto, with the interim cap of 24,100 currently in place until permanent measures begin in April 2011.

"The government has seen fit to introduce an exception to the rules for Premier League footballers. It is a sad reflection of our priorities as a nation if we cannot afford the same recognition for elite scientists and engineers," the academics wrote.

The scientists argue that international collaborations underlie 40 per cent of the UK's scientific output, but these collaborations would become far more difficult if UK Visa restrictions were tightened.
 
"The UK produces nearly 10% of the world's scientific output with only 1% of its population; we punch above our weight because we can engage with excellence wherever it occurs.

"The UK must not isolate itself from the increasingly globalised world of research - British science depends on it."

The CBI, the Royal Society and university vice-chancellors have already voiced concerns about the immigration cap.

Two of the scientists behind the letter are Russian migrants, Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov, of the University of Manchester, who won the Nobel prize for physics on Tuesday.

The other signatories are Sir Paul Nurse, Sir Tim Hunt, Sir Martin Evans, Sir Harry Kroto, Sir John Walker and Sir John Sulston.


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